Freelancing in becoming an increasingly popular choice for many professionals.  Freelancing allows professionals to do the work they love and work the hours that suits them – not their boss.

But what does it take to make it as a freelancer?  Here are 5 tips to start a successful freelance business.

1. Choose your skill

These days many professionals have an extensive skill base that can include everything from accounting and project management to event planning and graphic design.  For highly skilled workers, it can be tough to narrow their skill set down to one area – but focus is key to finding success as a freelancer.  You may well be a qualified project planner and an outstanding graphic designer, but in order to attract clients, concentrate on one thing at a time.

2. Find your niche

In these days of online marketing and search engine optimization, it pays to be specific. It makes it easier not only for potential clients to find you, but it makes it easier for the right clients to find you.  And while it may seem easier to cast as wide a net as possible, freelancers can actually generate more work through market domination.  Find your niche market then own it.  All of it.

3. Create your brand

Clients are looking to work with someone they trust and who understands their business.  Creating a brand is the first step in the process of building a relationship.  Your brand is your identity and should carry through across all of your branded content points – from your blog to your social media profiles.  It sets you apart from the competition, so make it count.

4. Work for free

Sometimes in order to make money you have to give it away for free.  This is especially true when you are just starting out and need to build a portfolio of work to share with prospective clients.  But there is money to be made from goodwill, so make sure you earn as much of it as you can. We bet our company on this strategy early in 2013, and it helped increase our profits by 300% in less than 12 months.

5. Market, Market, Market

In order to be a successful freelancer, you must take time to market your services.  And unless you have money to invest in TV and radio ads, or Google Ad campaigns, you will have to market yourself to potential clients.  This can include everything from simply announcing your freelance services on your Facebook wall and joining professional networking organizations to cold calling. When it comes to starting a successful freelance business, a little hustle goes a long way.

These are just five of the easiest ways for you to start a successful freelance business. It’s how Metal Potato started, and in less than four years, we have grown to 15 employees. We’ll be expanding each of the above topics in separate posts in the next few weeks.